AIB Roast Controversy

The recent controversy regarding the AIB roast is baffling. The issue is one about freedom of speech and expression and the hypocrisy and double standards of moral policing. The show was dragged to court alleging an attack on India’s cultural and traditional values.

Yes, the jokes at the AIB Roast were filthy and excessively obscene. But the organisers and the people who willingly choose to buy tickets should be entitled to express their sense of humour in the way they creatively choose to, which in this case was roasting. The show was closed and limited to public. Not to forget the intention behind was charity. Those who wanted to watch it had to buy passes. So no one was forced to go and watch it. Viewers’ discretion was advised by AIB through a disclaimer at the start of the video. It was made for a niche audience and the participants were warned about the content already! We did have the option to either watch or entirely ignore the content.

The show was not violent as the people who were insulted were willing to let that happen to them! Further, viewers discretion was advised for the video and the people present their willingly bought ticket to have some fun. So what is the harm if few celebrities decided to be a participant of a stand up comedy show in a closed audience and that too they themselves being roasted in the show?The futility of objection by some people also known as ‘samaj ke thekedar’(in my view) can be understood by the famous Urdu adage, “Jab miyan biwi razi, to kya karega kazi“.

In a country where rapes are rampant, people are murdered on caste and religious issues and politicians bicker(in real they ‘bakar’) all the time, it is ironical that a harmless comedy show gets in trouble for being offensive. Violent vows of organisations like Hindu Mahasabha which announces publicly to marry couples on valentine days are allowed to propagate their agendas. Regressive ‘saas bahu’ serials and offensive Honey singh songs which objectify women are enjoyed on every entertainment medium. India is a land of dualities. On one hand, we are so volatile we take offence at the slightest of insults. On the other hand, we remain silent where offence should actually be taken like rapes and social issues.

I think all such vulgar stuff is already flourishing in our society much before AIB came out with it. It is just that now it is more of public then private. Movies like ‘Grand Masti’, ‘Delhi Belly’, ‘Gangs of Wasseypur’ etc are few examples which are part of our life and we readily have accepted it. We are used to hearing such languages on every nook and corner. We are used to spilling Ma#@#!, B@!#@!#!@, and similar phonetic words in the company of friends. We barely spare a second to shout ‘beep’ words in a roadside rages. Then why is this AIB knockout show issue overblown?

I think that ‘at most’, this public portrayal of the everyday ‘way of life’ by celebrities and eminent media personalities can be seen as irresponsible on their part as they ‘inspire’ a complete generation of people. But that does not mean that lunatic elements should spring into action demanding actions like ban on books, articles, comedy shows; filing an FIR; sending a legal notice; targeting individuals by physical attacks and vandalising their homes, etc. when they don’t agree with something. These typical reactions of moral policing that endangers creative expression.

It’s done. And nothing can be done about it now! So stop fussing and fretting about it and just sit back and enjoy it, even if you do so behind closed doors! I am yet to meet a person who does not cuss or has not even once used a cuss word in his entire life. So stop being prejudiced about it.

The mindless provocation about Indian tradition and values to censure creative content and suppress freedom, erodes the same Indian values which preaches, tolerance, acceptance, diversity and promotes various art forms. Even Indian customs has practices which allows for letting the steam out, like through folk songs e.g.’Saas gali deve‘!

I have great faith in the judiciary and the Constitution of my land. I do not endorse AIB Roast, but I do endorse freedom of speech that must be safeguarded and upheld at all times. I don’t feel that this AIB show has spread any harm to our society. Well, there are so many other important issues which need immediate attention instead of making a mountain out of a molehill.

PS – Lets take offence for the right things!